Russia is a vast country that occupies both Europe and Asia, with the Ural Mountains considered the dividing line. It has a long border with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China (with an extremely short stretch shared with the tip of North Korea). Its Arctic Ocean is to its north, and the Bering Strait creates its border with Alaska in the United States.
The forbidding climate is a challenge, but the land is rich with crops and materials, including precious metals and oil. This abundance has largely not translated into easy living for the vast majority of Russians; for most of its history, Russia has been a story of a wealthy and powerful few ruling over a large and powerless mass of their countrymen.
This has led to a rich cultural identity that was first established during the rule of Czar Peter the Great in the eighteenth century. The resulting tsardom witnessed periods of immense growth and expansion, as well as major famine and civil war.
In the twentieth century, a series of political upheavals ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Russia becoming an independent state again. It has since consolidated its position as a major economic and military power, with Vladimir Putin leading the steady re-orientation of Russia away from democracy and cooperation with the West in favor of authoritarian politics.
Learning Russian is a daunting task, but it is possible with the help of language tools like Babbel’s app and online courses. The app uses personalized review to keep vocabulary from getting lost and helps you build upon the words you already know. The online course uses short stories that use daily situations to introduce new vocabulary and help you get familiar with the Russian alphabet and phonetic system.
One of the biggest challenges is that Russian is a very grammar-based language. While English has some grammatical exceptions, such as “you’re”, Russian has very few. It is also much more rigid in its sentence structure and has a very distinct set of rules for how to use verbs. While this makes it more difficult to learn, it does mean that once you do learn the basics of Russian, you can understand almost anything that is written or spoken.
Another challenge is that while many Russian words have a similar translation in English, there are some that do not. Words that sound the same in English but have very different meanings in Russian include “tomorrow”, “I’m sorry”, and “I’ll call you later”.
It’s important to keep all of these things in mind as you work to become fluent in Russian. Fortunately, there are many jobs that require a working knowledge of the language and companies in Russia hire employees from all over the world. Having a strong grasp of the language will make it easier to communicate with your coworkers and clients. It will also help you understand the content of articles, news and other media that might be published in the Russian press.